As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend. – Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
I recently joined a writing group. Like many groups, the primary form of communication and interaction is Facebook. When I joined the private group, I received friend requests on my personal page.
I now have 26 new friends.
I’m rarely on Facebook. However, when I do login, my feed is now full of updates and posts from people I don’t really know. I’ve showed up in the middle of their lives with no real understanding of how they got there. People are traveling internationally, celebrating birthdays, at the hospital fighting cancer. They share things that make me wonder, “How did this get into my feed?”
Facebook is a curious thing.
As I look through my feed this morning, I find that I know personal details of lives that I know nothing of the big picture. Do I add a word of encouragement for another day at the hospital with a sick husband? She doesn’t know who I am. Or do I just scroll past? It’s not that I don’t care but that I don’t know.
Some of my new friends I’ll meet at a conference in April or get to know better through the group’s private page. Others I will never know, and, eventually, the Facebook algorithm wizards will remove them from my feed (and me from theirs).
I suppose we always show up in the middle. I can’t ever know the whole story of someone’s life. At best, I get invited into a season.I suppose we always show up in the middle. I can’t ever know the whole story of someone’s life. At best, I get invited into a season. #friends Click To Tweet
Included in my Facebook friends are those I know personally but may have no idea of what is happening in their lives. Some people only post about happy things. Others post about everything. Some go dark when things are difficult. Their absence from my feed isn’t noticeable. If they are gone long enough, the app’s algorithms won’t put them in my feed when they return.
It is easy to trick myself that I know what is going with people I care about. Between Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (I can even with Snapchat), I’m not really out of contact. But these all tell a public story rather than a personal one. It’s not a substitute for a relationship.
This weekend, the Seven Ladies and I are going to visit our (real life) friend who moved to Denver. We got together virtually since she’s been gone, but it will be good to truly be together. We won’t have to rely on clicking the “like” button or emojis to communicate. Instead we can hug, laugh (for real, not just LOL), and maybe cry. We’ll all share for real her new home, her new church, her new life. And we’ll share ours.
It will still be showing up in the middle since there is a lot of life that’s happened for all of us since she moved. But real friends can do that because we’ve been there in the other middles.